The Philadelphia Union officially introduced Peter Nowak as its first coach and general manager yesterday at The Wharf at Rivertown in Chester, handing him a multi-year contract and the reigns to an expansion franchise scheduled to make its Major League Soccer debut in March, 2010.
"I don't believe in words. I believe in hard work," Nowak said at his first news conference. "That's how teams have played when I've coached them. This is what we intend to do with this team."
Nowak, 44, will function both as the Union's head coach and general manager, mimicking what Union chairman Jay Sugarman called a "European model," which allows coaches to be involved directly in acquiring the talent they eventually will coach on the field.
Nick Sakiewicz, the Union's chief executive officer and operating partner, did not attend yesterday's news conference and would not disclose the full terms of Nowak's contract, but he did call it "one of the higher-profile contracts in the league" via telephone.
Sugarman and Sakiewicz have bestowed a heavy contract and amount of responsibility on Nowak because the former Polish national team captain has proven he can earn the first and handle the second.
Nowak has played professionally in Poland, Germany, Switzerland and the United States and made 24 appearances for the Polish national team. Most recently, he served as an assistant coach for the U.S. men's national team and head coach of the under-23 team that went 1-1-1 in the Beijing Olympics.
His recent heavy involvement in building U.S. soccer has made him well-informed on the talent available to build the Union's roster, which means the team will not have to start from scratch from a personnel selection standpoint.
"He's the perfect package for us," Sugarman said. "To launch from a standing start with a guy like Peter, I think we've probably cut two or three years of development off our timeline."
Nowak also is a proven winner, having won the MLS Cup twice - in 1998 as a player for the Chicago Fire and in 2004 as the head coach of D.C. United.
The next step is to assemble a team.
Sakiewicz said he and Nowak already had spoken about specific players they believed would be a good fit for their intended style of play, but he would not name them. Nowak, however, did shed light on how he will approach building and coaching the team.
"I need to have guys who can read the game, who can make a decision on the field right off the bat," said Novak, who emphasized that despite his wide-ranging influence with the Union, it will always be about the team. "I don't need to tell them what to do or how to do it. We have three months of preseason to do that."
Nowak's credentials and manner not only convinced Sugarman he had his man, it also motivated him to hire Nowak as soon as possible.
"You're going to see a lot of things start happening now," Sugarman said.